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Smart Buildings: What you Need to Know About Intelligent Building

by | Mar 28, 2022 | Technology




Last Updated on August 14, 2022

Our world is changing. Changes that have significant impacts on our planet, life, and environment. Changes that force us to think in new ways. And these changes also apply to properties. Building technology is undergoing lasting changes.

Commercial estates are evolving to cater to changes in technology and workplace behavior while also presenting new opportunities to maximize efficiency and productivity. 

And companies are demanding versatile establishments that serve as virtual gateways to connect people in offices and around the world.

Building owners and operators are specifically tasked with the challenge of providing safe and secure settings network connectivity, functional spaces, and an IoT-enabled environment to achieve improved business productivity.

Buildings of the future will be smart and integrate people and systems dynamically and functionally. Hence what will a smart building of the future look like?

What is a smart building?

Smart buildings also called intelligent buildings are one that uses different kinds of modern technology to increase the efficiency of the overall entity as well as enable economical usage of its resources. It does so to create a safe, comfortable, and environmentally friendly space.

And to achieve this goal, the edifice is designed to accommodate a wide variety of smart technology. The Internet of Things, Human-Machine Interfaces, Artificial Intelligence, and augmented reality are some of the technology used in an intelligent building.

These technologies are used to control and optimize the performance of the establishment. The technology is not just applied to buildings but also to homes, offices, workplaces, warehouses, and factories.

Data, sensors, and connectivity to manage costs and improve efficiency are the central elements of this entity. Through these technologies, the processing system can monitor and control the building’s resource usage, and performance carbon footprint.

The estate is monitored through sensors that collect data in real-time. The data can be analyzed to seek patterns and provide actionable information. Intelligent buildings require a large amount of data to identify subtle patterns and anomalies.

With data collected by sensors, the connected building can deliver actionable information about the building or specific area inside. But can also take appropriate actions with some degree of autonomy. There is a lot of advanced technology for smart buildings.

Smart Building Technology

The key factor of a smart building is leveraging the power of data. Collecting accurate and reliable information is primordial to increasing its efficiency. Data can also be used to monitor activities and systems within the structure.

In today’s world, everything is run by data. As data provide insightful information about particular operations. The fundamental structure of an intelligent building is that everything is connected to the internet to allow real-time information exchange and collection.

The intelligent property uses connectivity and IoT devices to collect and automate various processes within the premises. Data collected can be about space occupancy, ventilation, electricity usage, heating, air conditioning, security, lighting, and many more.

Smart buildings are heavily dependent on internet of things devices. IoT devices are not just useful to turn buildings into smart entities, they can also create smart warehouses, smart homes, smart factories, smart spaces, smart offices, or even an entire city are becoming smart.

Moreover with all the activities that go on within a building daily, using sensors and IoT devices just to collect information are not enough. The data must be processed, and the most efficient technology in this domain is artificial intelligence (AI).

Artificial intelligence is very good at processing data to seek patterns and useful information. And AI can use past information and compare it with present one to provide predictive analysis and which area can be optimized.

Furthermore, Machine Learning which is a subdomain of AI can be used to learn, adapt, and improve itself from the data to provide some degree of autonomy to the systems. This way the building can adjust some properties such as lighting and temperature automatically.

And with all the information collected, storage space is needed to store them. Cloud computing is very important not just for data storage but also to provide the required processing power needed.

But the problem with the cloud is that the data center are far thus sometimes latency can be high. Latency is the time data take to travel from one place to another. If the system needed to take immediate action this can be a problem.

This is why edge computing is becoming important these days. Edge computing provides in-place computing power. This means some of the data is processed where it is generated which significantly reduces latency.

The benefits of such a system can be substantial for any company. The main idea behind a smart building is to automate various processes. It can also improve productivity by reducing unexpected equipment downtime.

The technology behind intelligent establishment varies. A building may also have a digital twin which is a virtual replica of a physical asset. This allows users to control the systems and monitor their performance remotely.

The intelligent infrastructure enables a lot of features such as inventory controls, security cameras, voice assistants, temperature sensors, biometric scanners, and many more. All this also means that occupant can customize their experience.

Benefits of Smart Building

A smart building is a supersystem. The goal of creating such an infrastructure is to reduce operating expenses while improving tenant comfort, optimize energy consumption, track core assets, and facilitate maintenance.

Intelligent building technology automates standard operations in the edifice which in turn makes it more efficient. While there are many reasons to create a smart building, one of the most compelling arguments is its environmental benefits as it uses less energy.

Buildings consume 36% of the global energy supply. And according to the UN, more than 38% of the global energy-related CO2 emissions are attributed to building operations. Most commercial estates around the world are situated in big cities and the latter are under the pressure of global warming.

It is therefore crucial that buildings become more energy efficient and more sustainable to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This is why smart buildings are gaining traction because the technologies they use are designed to optimize usage.

This type of infrastructure allows for real-time analysis of energy numbers, which allows for better planning. Energy costs can be reduced by 15 to 25% with this building technology. And using less energy means the reduction of carbon emissions as well as lower cost of business operations. 

Energy consumption and cost are improved through IoT sensors that monitor occupancy and can automatically turn off lights or HVAC systems when some areas are unoccupied. This reduces unnecessary consumption and wastage.

With these advantages, It is increasingly obvious that 66% of global organizations say that their primary motivation for adopting a smart building technology is better energy management.

As well as lowering energy usage and costs, since everything is connected water usage can also be tracked. This won’t reduce costs but the world is facing a severe water crisis. By providing information on water usage, the property owner will be aware of wastage or can envisage recycling water.

Smart building technology is capable of collecting huge amounts of data. This is a good idea because it allows owners to get real-time information about every activity. This allows the edifice manager to make more informed decisions.

As everything is automated and trackable, an intelligent building makes the process of building maintenance less time-consuming, reduces the risk of costly downtime, and avoids the need for expensive replacements.

This in turn increases the lifecycle of the infrastructure as well as lower operating and maintenance expenses. Furthermore, these applications help increase the asset value of the structure. People will be more appealed to a building that has all the latest technologies.

By using advanced technology, buildings can be more efficient and well maintain thus further increasing the property value. These are just some of the many benefits of a smart building.

The use of sensors in infrastructure is a great way to improve the quality of life for those inside. The technology in smart buildings is already used in a number of commercial estates and the technology can be installed in specific areas of a structure.

These features also improve customer satisfaction and employee productivity. In fact, it is estimated that the increased productivity of workers in a smart building could generate an additional $20 billion to $200 billion in additional revenue annually.

The identification and understanding of occupant movement and resource usage within the edifice is important to optimize efficiency while minimizing waste as well. Intelligent buildings do not just focus on cost and energy reduction but also operate to enable staff to work smartly.

In addition to increasing revenue opportunities, smart buildings will attract new companies and startups. This is because nowadays, companies are looking for a comfortable space to conduct their business.

Smart infrastructure can lower costs by up 30% as well as improve the health of employees and the environment. Which can result in improved employee productivity and satisfaction. The bottom line is that smart buildings will benefit everyone.

In addition to improving productivity, it can improve operational efficiencies. By integrating sensors, and HVAC systems, a smart building can be made more comfortable for tenants and improve their overall comfort.

With HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, the building management system can control the humidity, air quality, and temperature which in turn create the ideal environment for occupants. This also improves occupant well-being, work performance, and health.

And enhancing lighting and airflow quality can to some extent improve the appearance of the building, while augmented thermal comfort will keep people comfortable and healthy. With the right tools, a smart building can increase occupant comfort.

The increased productivity comes by delivering better lighting, indoor temperature, air quality, efficient processes, and comfort. Furthermore, a smart establishment will enhance the security and productivity of employees which can increase employee retention.

Smart infrastructure is high-performance, energy-efficient, and environmentally sustainable. With the right technology, the entire process of managing a building can also be monitored remotely which saves both time and money.

Future of Smart Building

Creating a smart building is a big goal for many businesses today. These buildings use measurement sensors to collect data and transmit them to a central management system for analysis and improvement.

These sensors monitor a wide variety of parameters such as temperature, energy consumption, and supply. While we’ve been using smart applications for decades, we’re only just now beginning to see their benefits for building intelligence.

Connected solutions can monitor everything from energy consumption to occupant behavior. Besides being more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, these buildings also have social benefits, including the ability to track usage and occupants, monitor their health and safety, and improve their facilities.

They can even give recommendations to the property manager. In fact, connected solutions can even make decisions autonomously. A building that can personalize the experience for tenants and buyers is worth more than one that doesn’t have this technology.

The future of smart buildings is bright but one problem may hamper its progress. With technology moving faster than ever, construction timetables can’t keep up. Despite this, the market for smart buildings is growing at an incredible pace.

The global smart building market was valued at USD 67.60 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 80.62 billion in 2022. A CAGR increase of 22.2% is expected from 2022 to 2029. Hence by 2029, the market is expected to reach a staggering USD 328.62 billion.

The market is facing this growth due to a surge in IoT devices. Connected devices are becoming more powerful and cheaper while shrinking in size. The entire world is becoming a huge interconnected entity.

In 2021, there were an estimated 11.3 billion IoT devices in circulation around the world. This number is expected to reach 29.4 by 2030. With the global population expected to reach 8.9 billion by 2030, this means that at that time each person on earth will have 3-4 IoT devices.

Furthermore, there are around 6.6 billion smartphones in circulation around the world. And it is expected that IoT devices will grow exponentially to reach 100 billion by 2050. Some estimations reveal that there are 230 million devices connected in buildings in 2018 and that figure will be 483 million in 2022.

The future of smart buildings will be defined by the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies will be crucial to buildings. For example, AI can determine what time of the day there is a meeting and automatically adjust the temperature before they arrive to match those times.

The future of smart buildings includes both human and machine-generated data and digital information. With these technologies, the future of building technology will be brighter. However, the challenges of smart building are many.

There are a lot of trends in cybersecurity going on these days. With digitalization, cyberattacks have more than tripled since 2020. And with all the connected devices that are within a smart building, this creates vulnerable points that cybercriminals can exploit.

Cybersecurity is the utmost priority within a connected building to protect mental health of occupants and maintain digital trust. Another challenge is the need for open standards. The use of open standards across the industry can help to make the process of smart buildings of the future more efficient.

These standards enable the infrastructure to learn about patterns of day-to-day activity and shut down unnecessary assets. These systems are essential to improve the efficiency of a building. Another challenge of intelligent buildings is about privacy and availability of data. However, these challenges are the same as in many industries.

Furthermore, the smart building technology itself is in constant development and it can be complex and time-consuming to implement. The technology behind the devices is often not compatible with other systems, posing a range of difficulties for the new entrants to the market.

As more components are connected to the internet, there will be a constant need for improvements and updates. In the meantime, smart buildings are a great option for sustainable construction.

And with green building, the concept can go to a new level. The use of distributed energy resources such as solar panels and wind energy will reduce local electricity costs. Often, these edifices generate more power than they consume, hence they can sell energy to other neighboring buildings.

Smart buildings can also mean hospitals. IoT technology is entering the healthcare sector with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). The hospital of the future will provide better treatment outcomes and enhanced staff productivity while optimizing costs to provide cheaper treatment.

A smart building is also considered synonymous with sustainability because it reduces building carbon footprint and energy usage, this is why the concept is being applied to entire cities. Smart City concept is a hot topic these days.

While smart building technology is becoming increasingly popular, the process is not easy. A well-defined business case must be accompanied by a realistic assessment of the challenges.

Smarter building means lower maintenance costs and increased energy efficiency. A smarter world means a better tomorrow. It is important to remember that the benefits of smart buildings go beyond the technological.

Intelligent building is a good way to make buildings more efficient and sustainable. In addition, it allows for better decision-making and reduces operational costs. Those who choose such infrastructure can create new working opportunities while reaping the advantage of new technologies.